Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware.

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: AFP

8:10 Evan Osnos - can Joe Biden unite a divided America?

Evan Osnos

Evan Osnos Photo: supplied

With democratic candidate Joe Biden looking likely to win the US presidency, it's time to delve into his background and ambitions. 

And to ask how he is going to deal with a deeply divided America, ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling with ongoing racial and political unrest. 

Evan Osnos is a staff writer for The New Yorker covering politics and foreign affairs.

His new book is called Joe Biden; The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now.

8:35 Virologist Chris Smith: UK lockdown latest and Q+A

Consultant clinical virologist at Cambridge University, and one of BBC Radio 5 Live's Naked Scientists, Dr Chris Smith returns to digest emerging COVID-related science and research.

This week; the latest on post COVID-19 immunity, the ongoing race to a safe and effective vaccine, how the UK ended up back in lockdown, and why is Denmark culling millions of mink?

Group of viruses, computer illustration.

Photo: AFP

9:05 Andrew Cotter: sports broadcaster whose canine commentary went viral

No caption

Photo: supplied

Andrew Cotter is a Scottish sports broadcaster whose two dogs, Olive and Mabel, became unwitting social media stars during the pandemic.

Stuck at home with no work due to the cancellation of major sporting events,  he resorted to commentating on his adorable but competitive labradors.

His widely-shared videos brought cheer to many with his commentaries as the two played, ate, conducted Zoom calls, ran, thought about food, swam, did some online dating, then thought about food some more.

These experiences have now formed the basis of a book called Olive, Mabel and Me: Life and Adventures with Two Very Good Dogs.

9:30  Peter Garrett: Midnight Oil returns to champion indigenous rights

Former politician, environmentalist and activist Peter Garrett first came to prominence as the lead singer of the Australian band Midnight Oil, welding socially conscious lyrics with atmospheric vistas of Australia seen from the back of a flatbed truck.

After a hiatus of nearly two decades Midnight Oil are back with a new 'mini album' called The Makarrata Project.

The album features a cross section of First Nations' musicians including Jessica Mauboy, Alice Skye and Tasman Keith, with the band donating its proceeds to organisations committed to The Uluru Statement from The Heart (2017).

This called for greater reconciliation with Australia's Indigenous population, including the establishment of a 'First Nations Voice' enshrined in the Australian Constitution, and the creation of a 'Makarrata Commission' to supervise agreements and communications between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Midnight Oil

Midnight Oil Photo: supplied / Awais Butt

10:05 Scottish poet laureate Jackie Kay

Poet, playwright, and novelist Jackie Kay is the current makar (the National Poet of Scotland) and previous winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize.

Born in Edinburgh to a Nigerian father and Scottish mother she was then adopted and grew up in Glasgow.

Her play The Lamplighter has recently been reissued and follows five characters sold into the British slave trade: in the process she explores Scotland's often overlooked role in this.

She ran the Makar to Makar online performance project during lockdown when literary festivals were cancelled.

She also has a book on the blues singer Bessie Smith due out next year.

She'll share a few of her poems.

Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay Photo: supplied

10:30 Populism and the pandemic: international law expert Campbell McLachlan

Campbell McLachlan

Campbell McLachlan Photo: supplied

How will the global rise of populism, allied to the pandemic, shape the future of international law?

Professor Campbell McLachlan QC of Victoria Law School recently returned to New Zealand from Berlin, where he was considering this issue at the Berlin-Potsdam Research Group.

He argues that the brand of populism we are seeing in countries including the US, UK and Brazil has weakened the world's capacity to respond to COVID-19 through the usual mechanisms to combat the threat of infectious diseases.

He is currently serving as one of a 16-member Commission of the Institute of International Law on 'Pandemics and International Law'. Next year he takes up the Arthur Goodhart Visiting Professorship of Legal Science at the University of Cambridge.

11:05 Remaining erratic: Martin Edmond's Red Mole theatre days

Martin Edmond

Martin Edmond Photo: supplied

Born from a chance encounter in a Laotian opium den in 1973, Alan Brunton and Sally Rodwell's avant-garde troupe Red Mole exemplified political, provocative, creative and chaotic theatre.

Their performances mixed theatre, song, dance, satire and (sometimes) huge puppets, and were built on a core manifesto of five principles which included 'escape programmed behaviour by remaining erratic'.

Born in Ohakune and now living in Sydney, Martin Edmond was an actor, writer and later lighting technician in the group.

In his new book Bus Stops to the Moon: Red Mole Days 1974-1980, he shares an intimate history of the group's highs and lows.

11:30 Presidential pets: Andrew Hager

As Historian-in-Residence of the Presidential Pet Museum Andrew Hager records the menagerie of domestic animals that have called The White House home.

Recently Donald Trump's failure to own a pet became the subject of some of Joe Biden's campaign ads.

Should Mr Biden be declared president, his two German Shepherds, Major and Champ, will join cows, snakes, goats, parrots, pigs, turkeys,elephants, lion cubs, a pygmy hippo, a bear, and the odd wallaby who have lived at the White House.


Books mentioned in this show:

Joe Biden - The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now
By Evan Osnos
ISBN: 9781982174095
Published by Scribner

Olive, Mabel & Me: Life and Adventures with Two Very Good Dogs
by Andrew Cotter
ISBN: 9781682686645
Published by The Countryman Press

The Lamplighter
by Jackie Kay
ISBN: 9781529039856
Published by Pan Macmillan

Music played in this show

Song: I Won't Back Down
Artist: Johnny Cash
Played at 8:35

Song: Terror Australia
Artist: Midnight Oil (feat Alice Skye)
Played at 9:25